Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development says government needs at least K258 billion to implement short- and medium-term strategies to address hunger and food insecurity which will affect millions of Malawians this year.
This is in addition to the drought insurance policy government has obtained with a maximum cover of K21 billion (about $30 million) to implement a drought emergency response programme.
Comparatively, the funding is nearly a third of the national budget, which in this financial year stood at K906 billion following a revision in February.
The government has largely relied on donors to reaching out to three million Malawians who were affected by food shortages last year, a number which is expected to rise this year following drought which has affected the crop output in 15 districts.assist in mitigating and
Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Erica Maganga told the Government Assurances and Public Service Reforms Committee of Parliament in Lilongwe on Wednesday that it had become clear that the country would suffer food insecurity whose magnitude was higher than experienced in previous years.
Appealing for funding assistance, Maganga said given the huge amount of resources required, funding appeals would intensify to donors but also Parliament to lobby the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe for additional resources for the ministry.
She put the budget for importation of maize at K242.8 billion, which Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) would buy locally and beyond borders.
Admarc plans to buy 250 000 metric tonnes (MT)of which 60 000 tonnes would come directly from farmers and the rest from private traders, including imports, while NFRA targets to buy 250 000 MT.
However, government may have to look beyond southern Africa as countries like South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia, where Malawi imported, have just enough to feed their own people.
Maganga said Malawi would have to look to Central America and even Ukraine in Europe for assistance, which would increase the costs of importation unlike last year when maize was procured from Zambia.
She said in addition to the K242 billion for maize imports, government also needed K6.8 billion to engage commercial farmers to use existing irrigation facilities or use the ones belonging to smallholder farmers for maize production.
It is expected that through this initiative, about 25 000 MT will be realised after the use of 4 500 irrigable land.
Government also needs K8.4 billion to smallholder farmers to make use of 35 000 hectares of irrigable land which might yield 140 000 MT to benefit 285 000 farming households.
Once government supports these farmers with seed and fertiliser, Maganga said the maize would not be sold to government agencies like Admarc or National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) unless the farmers want to do so.
Also included in the K258 billion budget requirement is K700 million to install nine motorised pumps to increase maize production.
“As a medium-term measure, government plans to procure and distribute 27 solar pumps which will benefit 1 350 farming families and irrigate 270 hectares, especially residing in Chikwawa and Nsanje which have high water tables,” Maganga said.
Government has budgeted K1.4 billion to procure the solar pumps which would be distributed to Shire Valley ADD.
Following President Peter Mutharika’s appeal for assistance, development partners provided over K25 billion to government which included about K8.75 billion (about 15 million pounds) from Britain, K3.5 billion from Japan (about $5 million) in addition to the World Bank Emergency Floods Recovery Project amounting K36 billion ($80 million).
So far, the government of the United States of America has been the first to respond and has provided Malawi Government with $55 million (about K38.5 billion).